Policing for Profit: The Drug War's Hidden Economic Agenda

85 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2007

See all articles by Eric D. Blumenson

Eric D. Blumenson

Suffolk University Law School

Eva S. Nilsen

Boston University School of Law


During the 25 years of its existence, the War on Drugs has transformed the criminal justice system, to the point where the imperatives of drug law enforcement now drive law enforcement and corrections policies in counterproductive ways. One significant impetus for this transformation has been the enactment of forfeiture laws which allow law enforcement agencies to keep the lion's share of the drug-related assets they seize. This financial incentive has left many law enforcement agencies dependent on drug law enforcement to meet their budgetary requirements. In this article we present a legal and empirical analysis of these laws and their consequences. The empirical data show that the corruption of law enforcement priorities and wholesale miscarriages of justice can be attributed to the operation of these incentives, and also help explain why the drug war continues with such heavy emphasis on law enforcement and incarceration. The legal analysis questions the constitutionality of the forfeiture funding scheme under the due process clause, the appropriations clause, and the separation of powers.

Keywords: drug war, forfeiture, separation of powers, police corruption

Suggested Citation

Blumenson, Eric and Nilsen, Eva S., Policing for Profit: The Drug War's Hidden Economic Agenda. University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 65, p. 35, 1998, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=959869

Eric Blumenson (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States
(617) 305-1967 (Phone)
(617) 305-3087 (Fax)

Eva S. Nilsen

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-4255 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics